peach butter.jpg

Whether you’re making jams, jellies, preserves, conserves, fruit butters, shrubs, sauces or something else – canning is a great way to preserve the abundance of the harvest to enjoy throughout the year!

Intro to Canning Safety

Ensuring that the food you’re eating is free from things that will make you sick is extremely important. If you’re new to canning but have an abundance of harvest, now is as good a time as any to experiment! These tips are only an introduction to show you how simple the process actually is. Please read more in depth on websites listed below, attend a workshop, or can with more experienced friends to ensure you understand the whole process and will be able to enjoy your labor all winter long.

1. Tempered glass mason jars should be used that are specifically for canningpurposes. Don’t reuse glass jars from things like store-bought tomato sauce or mayonnaise. Those are too thin & will shatter under prolonged heat or pressure.

2. New mason jars come with jar ring bands and sealing lids. You can reuse jars and ring bands as long as they are in good condition, but sealing lids must be purchased each time you can something new because their seal is compromised the first time they’re used.

3. Before filling, examine and clean all jars and ring bands, and fill them with hot water until they’re filled with food.

4. Adding an acidic ingredient, such as lemon juice, will help to preserve the color and health of your recipes.

5. If you’re working exclusively with fruits, tomatoes, or pickles, a canningkettle, or hot water bath, method will suffice to sterilize. Canning kettles can be purchased, or a deep stock pot. If using a stock pot, ensure that the bottom of the glass jars are raised from the bottom, either by using a cake rack in the bottom or even carefully lining up some extra jar ring bands on the bottom to rest the jars on. Fill the stock pot with water up to an inch above the top of the largest canning jar.

6. Canning vegetables, seafood, and meat requires a steam pressure canner, due to a general lack of acidity and shorter shelf life of these ingredients. Pressure canners are fairly expensive but can be shared by groups or perhaps borrowed from organizations that may have them. You may also get lucky if you frequent thrift stores like I do. Some of the great kitchen things people get rid of are crazy!

7. Some useful canning accessories include: colander or wire basket for blanching fruits, a food mill, a food chopper, a wire strainer, a wider-mouth canning funnel for easy jar-filling, a jar lifter for handling hot jars, an accurate thermometer to check temperatures, and an automatic timer.

8. When in doubt, throw it out! If you open up a jar after it’s been sitting a while & it seems a little weird–i.e. smells bad, has softened a lot, is discolored, or moldy–get rid of it. The biggest fear when canning is botulism. These organisms can live without air inside a sealed jar and will not be destroyed by boiling water. Botulism cannot survive in an acid environment, but with non-acidic ingredients, sustained steam pressure at 240 degrees F is necessary.

Canning Safety Resources

Food in Jars Canning 101:

Canning 101 YouTube Video:

USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning:

The Encyclopedia of Country Living, 40th Anniversary Ed, by Carla Emery:

Sunset Home Canning, 1975:


Now some fun stuff, to be prepared whether you’re canning or not! These things will all keep in the fridge, too, but not for as long.

Fruit Shrub Syrup via The Kitchn

yields approx. 2 cups

Derived from the Arabic word ‘sharbah’ meaning “a drink,” a shrub is a fresh fruit syrup preserved with vinegar and sugar that makes a delicious beverage syrup and can add zesty brightness and fresh fruit flavor to salads, vegetable dishes, and meat!

strawberry shurb.jpgFruit Shrub Formula

2 cups fruit – Consider making this with picked or gleaned fruits including cherries, mulberries, peaches, plums, pears!  Wash, peel, chop and/or lightly crush the fruits you’re using. Add herbs and spices to your liking including fresh ginger, peppercorns, cinnamon, oregano, thyme, lavender. Get creative! (Some favorite combinations of mine include plums-thyme, cinnamon-ginger-cherry, mulberries-licorice)

1 pint vinegar – Again, your choice here! White vinegar will give you the sharpest brightest flavor, with apple cider vinegar being the most mild. Balsamic is a nice choice for working with strawberries and other berries.

1 ½ to 2 cups sugar – raw, white, brown.

Add your chopped/prepared/crushed fruit to a sterilized glass container like a mason jar that has been previously boiled for 10 minutes.

Heat vinegar in a saucepan to just below boiling and then pour vinegar over the fruit, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Cap tightly and leave the fruit-vinegar mixture to cool and settle for anywhere from 24 hours to 4 weeks for the flavors to infuse.

Strain the fruit-vinegar mixture through cheesecloth or a coffee filter – saving the fruit perhaps for additions to chutneys or other preparations – and then add the sugar. Bring the strained fruit-vinegar mixture to a near boil in a saucepan then dissolve the sugar into the mixture.

Jar and can in sterilized jars or store in the fridge for up to 6 months! To enjoy, add 1 TB of shrub into sparkling or still water for a refreshing, flavorful beverage.


Spicy Tomato Chutney via My Darling Lemon Thyme

yields 2 medium size jars

2 lbs ripe tomatoes

2 TB olive oil

½ tsp mustard seeds

½ tsp fenugreek

½ tsp black sesame seeds

4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

2 TB finely grated ginger

1 long red chili, seeded and chopped

2 tsp sea salt

2 large apples, peeled, cored and finely diced

1 ¼ c. raw sugar

¾ c apple cider vinegar

Peel and chop your tomato flesh. To easily remove the skins: remove the bottom core from each tomato using a sharp knife and make a criss-cross X on the round end. Place in a glass or ceramic bowl and pour boiling water to cover the tomatoes for 45-60 seconds and then cold water to refresh it. Skin should slip off easily.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, stir in spices (mustard seeds, fenugreek, black sesame) and heat until they begin to crackle and get fragrant. Add in chili, garlic, ginger – stir for 45 seconds. Then, add in tomatoes, salt, sugar, vinegar, and apples – giving it a good stir. Bring to boil then reduce to summer and cook for 55-60 minutes. Stir every 10 minutes until the mixture thickens.

Remove from the heat and transfer to sterilized jars. The chutney will store 3-6 months in a cool dark place. Use open jars within 2 weeks.


Peach Butter with Cinnamon, Ginger, and Clove via Nourished Kitchen

yields 6 pints (48 servings)

15 pounds peaches (pitted and quartered)

3 TB ground cinnamon

2 tsp. ginger

½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

½ tsp. ground cloves

¼ tsp. ground cardamom

¼ tsp. ground allspice

Blend batches of the peaches in a food processor or blender until smooth.

Pour peach puree into heavy-bottomed stock pot and stir in spices. Simmer uncovered over medium-lowe heat, stirring frequently for about 60 minutes or until a thickened fine paste forms.

Blend until smooth with an immersion blender and pour into pint-sized mason jars and refigerate or can using the water bath method. Enjoy!

Wishing you an abundant harvest and uplifting summer!

This edition of POP TIPS prepared by Education & Outreach Director Robyn Mello with assistance from POP Intern Alyssa Schimmel.

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